Nikon says "engage" to (not-so-strange) new world of smart telescopes

Man using phone to see with smart Unistellar telescope after Nikon announcement
(Image credit: Unistellar)

Nikon's telescope credentials are well established, but the company yesterday announced its first investment in smart telescopes. It is not, however, a completely strange new world; Nikon is backing Unistellar, a French company with whom it has already worked.

Smart telescopes are seen as a disruptive technology in the amateur astronomy market, with smartphone control helping people find the subjects and keep them in frame. Nikon had already prodived a micro OLED eyepiece for the Unistellar eVscope 2, after a previously announced partnership. Now it seems Nikon is investing in what might be the future of its telescope business.

• Check out the best smart telescopes on the market right now

Unistellar's description of the Nikon technology is fullsome in its praise. It describes "a sophisticated array of lenses, sourced from Nikon's expert optical labs." And that's just for the eVscope 2. The next step, according to the Unistellar announcement, is to become the world leader in consumer astronomy.

Senior teams pose for the announcement including Arnold Malvache, CEO of Unistellar (front left) and Toshikazu Umatate, president of Nikon (front centre) (Image credit: Unistellar)

"Nikon ambitions to contribute to the advancement of science by bringing the excitement of astronomical observation to all" is the word from Yasuhiro Ohmura, Senior Vice President of Nikon. 

We hope we can blame the translation for the verb use there, but the point is strong. Unistellar smart telescopes have been used in spotting exoplanets and near-earth asteroids, and users can collaborate through organizations like NASA and SETI.

Indeed, Unistellar's existing collaboration software is used by an online community of 10,000 observers. Live captures can be shared and, who knows, perhaps this is how extra-terrestrial life will first be seen?

As Unistellar's announcement makes plain, the investment-backed partnership will make the company more nimble in the market. It already has a presence in the US, Europe, Japan, and 60 countries, but is keen to grow. It also notes that smart tech makes it easier for urban astronomers to find their targets, despite noise pollution.

While the announcement is exciting, you can start using Unistellar's tech now; as well as the eVscope 2 we mentioned, there is also the Unistellar eQuinox 2 that uses phone screens.

If this article was of interest you might want to check our list of best computerized telescopes, or our best beginner telescope guide. If you feel you'd like to start more traditionally – and at a bit less cost – then check our best budget telescopes. Let's not forget the photographic, either; we also keep an eye on the best telescopes for astrophotography.

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Adam Juniper
Managing Editor

With over 20 years of expertise as a tech journalist, Adam brings a wealth of knowledge across a vast number of product categories, including timelapse cameras, home security cameras, NVR cameras, photography books, webcams, 3D printers and 3D scanners, borescopes, radar detectors… and, above all, drones. 

Adam is our resident expert on all aspects of camera drones and drone photography, from buying guides on the best choices for aerial photographers of all ability levels to the latest rules and regulations on piloting drones. 

He is the author of a number of books including The Complete Guide to Drones, The Smart Smart Home Handbook, 101 Tips for DSLR Video and The Drone Pilot's Handbook